back to article India launches hypersonic space shuttle precursor

India has successfully launched a scaled-down model of a planned “Reusable Launch Vehicle” (RLV). Today's launch was dubbed the “hypersonic flight experiment” (HEX) and saw a 6.5m, 1.75 tonne model of a winged spaceplane hoisted aloft atop a modified sounding rocket using the S9 engine India uses as an auxiliary for its PSV …

  1. solo
    Thumb Up

    +1 for the competition and democratization in science.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can someone please explain to me why we are still sending overseas aid money to India?


      Aid money is a way to ensure we have access to local markets, it may be called something else but aid/development funds sounds better

    2. Tom Womack

      Because there are still an awful lot of poor people in India, and paying people directly to minister to them works better than trying to convince the Indian government to change its fund-allocation priority.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Are we? You sure on that? Checked the facts?

      "UK to halt financial aid to India from January 2016"

      "India will not get financial aid from United Kingdom beginning 2016 ..."

      "UK stops aid to India - Asian Voice"

      "Britain Aid to India to End This Month -"

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge

        The government might be stopping, but charities will continue to send money there. I spent the weekend raising money to rescue blind children abandoned on the streets - the Indian government doesnt care if they starve to death (or get eaten).

        (Joythi Seva Society)

        1. RagBag

          Sorry, these are to salve your own burns.

          And harvesting souls seems the most likely cause. As it is, Tata has put much more into the UK, than the UK has given to India post colonial times.

    4. Gunda

      You probably do not anymore. I think we have politely and gratefully declined.

    5. saif

      Aid is not help the poor.

      Foreign is a political statement either to win votes at home or to influence other countries' foreign or domestic policies, and much of the money disappears in bureaucracy; UK foreign aid at least targets poorer nations like Bangladesh, Ethiopia etc.

      US Foreign appears to be targeting mainly places they have bombed and Israel.

      It is unlikely that any aid actually benefits the nation, but ostensibly British foreign aid is allocated to generally specific beneficial projects, I would say

    6. RagBag

      Good Q. Why, indeed? Please ask Cameron.

      One also wonders what happened to all the money that was vacuumed out of India during colonial times.

    7. Wolfclaw

      Government likes to be seen to be doing good, when in fact, we are wasting the money and greasing the palms of corrupt Indian politicians and agencies. The whole country lives in the dark ages, yet the elite waste billions on space !

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We aren't. We stopped several years ago.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge

    “hypersonic aero-thermo dynamic characterization of winged re-entry body along with autonomous mission management to land at a specified location and characterization of hot structures are planned to be demonstrated.”


  4. Andy 97

    Call me what you like, but I believe there's something inherently wrong with a society that can build space vehicles, but still has children living on railway lines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're absolutely right. Let's send aid money to the US.

    2. John Robson Silver badge


      We've cured poverty over here - noone lives on the streets...

    3. solo

      ...children living on railway lines

      Is it ironic to think that there is need for more SPACE? oh .. of course we can sterilize them!

    4. RagBag

      Yes: let us call you green.

      This is a business, with the aim of adding value and making money. This is no NASA like burn-money-send-rockets project.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There are many reasons why there is poverty in India, but by far the most important is almost 2 centuries of British rule during which time India's share of world GDP declined from around 24% to around 3% (since independence it has slowly risen to around 7%) as they were robbed to help finance British development. It is not a coincidence that the industrial revolution started in Britain when it did because it was financed to a large extent by loot from India.

      You criticize Indian society for trying to develop their scientific, engineering and industrial base while there is still poverty in India. Well, when Britain ruled India a far higher percent of Indians lived in abject poverty and starvation was commonplace, with life expectancy of just 32 years. What do you think British society did then? Far from helping the poor, it stole their food to feed it's armies, and to stockpile food in Europe just in case it might be needed, while millions starved to death in India, even including the families of soldiers fighting for Britain. And it imposed a brutal salt tax so that laborers who toiled in the intense heat of Indian summers could barely afford the salt to avoid heatstroke. Indians got nothing for their taxes. There was almost no investment in education (90% of the population was illiterate, 95% for women), very little industrial infrastructure, non-existent medical facilities, and the transportation infrastructure, paid for by heavy taxation on Indians, was mainly to facilitate troop movements.

      And you think there is something wrong with Indian society??

      1. Anonymous Coward


        And what did the Romans do for us?

        I am sure the vaious King equivalents etc would have done better, or perhaps not

        History what is good for, specious arguments thats what

        Mines the one with the Herstory Book in the pocket

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes?

          "And what did the Romans do for us?

          I am sure the vaious King equivalents etc would have done better, or perhaps not

          History what is good for, specious arguments thats what"

          The British Empire was not the Roman empire, the 20th century was not the 1st century, and the Romans don't go around claiming to be morally superior, caring for the poor under their care like the British do.

          And if you were to make a macabre dramatic reference in this situation, rather than Life of Brian, here is a more appropriate reference for British rule in India:

          Viceroy Lord Linlithgow (dragging an emaciated corpse to Churchill's office): I wish to lodge a complaint. This coolie you've assigned to work for me is dead and so are three million more on the streets of Calcutta and the fields of Bengal.

          Churchill: He's not dead, he's pining for the Ganges.

          Linlithgow: He's dead, expired. He is an ex-Bengali coolie.

          Churchill (fixing a bayonet on his rifle): He's just taking a nap, they do that these lazy coolies.

          Linlithgow: He's not, he's dead, I tell you.

          Churchill (jabbing the corpse forcefully, several times, with his bayonet): There! He moved!!

          Linlithgow (looking squeamishly at the weak ooze of almost coagulated blood from the bayonet wounds): He didn't move. Look at him, he's just skin and bones, no flesh and hardly any blood in him at all.

          Churchill: Beautifully efficient, these Bengali coolies. You get an awful lot of work out of them, growing rice for our troops and building the roads out of Burma so that our soldiers, who crapped their pants when the Japanese arrived, could get the hell out of there. And you only need to give them a handful of rice when you feel generous. No salt, that costs too much. Bloody taxes you know, old chap.

          Linlithgow: There's no point feeding this one anything, he's dead.

          Churchill: Perhaps you fed him too much. These Bengali coolies, they breed like rabbits if you feed them.

  5. tkioz

    While I'm impressed by this, and glad to see more nations in space, I'm also highly annoyed. Last year India took in billions of dollars of foreign aid... I'm sorry but if you can afford a space program then you don't need aid money.

    1. james 68

      Of course the aid money is needed, how else will they pay for their space program?

      Saying that India doesn't need aid money because it has a space program is disingenuous, India certainly needs aid money, not to help so many starving and unfortunate people would be to deny our own humanity, but the problem lies in corrupt officials throughout all levels of government who spend that cash on misguided projects and to make themselves richer.

      The aid money should not be removed, the corrupt officials should be.

    2. Blake St. Claire

      India doesn't want our aid

      British or American!

      They've been begging us to stop sending it. [1]

      They themselves send a fair amount of aid to other countries. [2]



    3. RagBag

      Which billions sir?

      Part of the trillions that you vacuumed out of India over 200 years of colonial rule, a place where you had no right to be?

    4. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge
    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How do you climb out of poverty?

      No one 'needs' a space programme, but you can argue that developing countries should trade their way to prosperity, develop high tech industries etc, so why not fund an indigenous space capability?

      Once you start down there 'because aid... not x' argument where do you stop? Space industry, OK, how about Nuclear power, aircraft, cars, mobile phones, digital watches? Is it moral to have a cinema industry when people are starving? Why should morality stop at a border, if it's immoral for India to fund a space industry, isn't immoral for us?

  6. David Roberts

    Modified sounding rocket?

    Keep seeing this term used.

    As in "Cor, that rocket sounds well modified."?


    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: sounding rocket?

      The term was new to me until today - when I read it in another Reg article.

      According to Wikipedia, it means the same as 'research rocket', and 'sound' means to probe...

      Hence the 'Lambda Sond' (Lambda sensor) grill badge on some older Volvos.

  7. Peter Ford


    "The dummy craft then made a hypersonic descent to earth"

    They say that like it's a good thing!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Descent...

      Well, if I was in it, it wouldn't make much odds to me if it hit the ground at hypersonic or at merely supersonic speed!

      I guess it depends upon how good the view is out of the window, and whether my state of mind would allow me to spend my last minutes/seconds admiring it. Most likely I'd be "oh shit of shit oh shit oh shit" or even inventing a new swear word, but you never know!

  8. stucs201

    Model shuttle?

    So basically this was somewhere between a real space shuttle and Top-Gear's Reliant Robin?

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Model shuttle?

      Man I miss that show...

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: Model shuttle?

        We all do, mate. We all do.

        Any commentards with a DeLorean feel like going back in time, infiltrating a certain hotel, and punching a certain famous television presenter right in the face, at just the right time, so as to prevent him from striking someone he shouldn't by giving him a perfect, ironclad excuse to strike someone else?

        ... Mine's the one with Mercedes-badged Flux Capacitor in the pocket.

    2. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Model shuttle?

      So basically this was somewhere between a real space shuttle and Top-Gear's Reliant Robin?

      Such a shame that the Robin did not separate.

  9. geoffslea

    whoosh splash!

    a hypersonic descent to earth, splashing down into the Bay of Bengal, sounds like a controlled crash.

  10. RagBag

    Here comes the ne'er-do-well crowd of British malcontents - cursing someone else for success!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what else can u expect from a post colonial nation, desperate to remain relevant while nose diving into obscurity.

      Britain. the country formally known as Great.

      anon because many egos will be bruised.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge


  11. Greg D

    Good to see the British tax payers money at work...

    Wait, what?

    In all seriousness, this is some good shit. I just don't know why we're still sending them money.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Good to see the British tax payers money at work...

      Read the preceding comments, we're not.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    This is a *long* way from being a launch vehicle. It's more like the X37b

    IOW still likely to need a bloody big expendable rocket to get it anywhere.

    Mind you it has tested TPS materials to M5

    Handy if one were to (just for example) be planning to build a M5 cruise missile, would it not?

    Likewise if you replaced that 6.5t test vehicle with say a 500Kg "physics package" that would probably have some other uses.

  13. x 7

    hypersonic reentry vehicle?

    once they've got the guidance sorted it will become an interesting orbital bombardment weapon.

    A 1700kg body accurately impacting a target at Mach 7 is a fearsome weapon, even without explosives. Is this aimed at China? Or the muslim nuclear states? Given enough rockets you could have a non-nuclear first strike against hardened silos

  14. Tom 64

    Was the 'shuttle' even self powered?

    It seems that this was simply a parabolic trajectory with separation at the top of the arc and the height was enough that it could achieve silly speeds on the descent.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


    Is it powered by ants?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019